12 J I M C A R R O L L early morning events often prevented me from attending school, and while the dreaded morning visions often frightened me and left me too anxious to get ready for school, they had that small dividend. There was a recurring theme in my dreams. Their eccentricity alone was such that I did not wish to report the dreams, even to my mother. The white camel, the central character of my dreams, seemed rather unlike an animal, but more like a character in a play. His personality—I was certain it was a male camel—was confident and aloof, except for the occasions when he teased me. I awoke in my room on the morning of Monday, December 4, 1950. I was twelve. I was lying on my back, and although awake, I couldn’t speak or move. I had been dreaming of the white camel, who was stealing sheep from my father’s flock. I tried to prevent the theft, but the white camel laughed at me and proceeded off across the desert with the sheep. Mama came into my bedroom and found me looking up at the ceiling, drenched with sweat, un- speaking and without movement. I couldn’t respond to my moth- er’s anger about my failure to rise for school. “Get up, Yacoub. Don’t give your father any more excuses to blame you.” After what seemed like hours but was actually only a few moments, I regained the ability to move. I tried to explain to my mother what had happened, but she was unsympathetic and even threatened to inform my father. I didn’t want to tell my mother this event she had just witnessed was a common occurrence, and I modified the explanation to minimize the event. “Mama, my stomach hurt too much to move.” After seeing Fatima’s reaction to this event, disbelief and all, I learned to keep these occurrences secret. As I approached ado- lescence, I saw this as just another indication that I was peculiar. Stories were my refuge.